It’s hard to believe another National Doughnut Day is upon us. June 2 is fast approaching and, as usual, I haven’t written my Doughnut Day cards yet or put up my Doughnut Day decorations. But let’s put aside the trappings of the holiday and focus on what Doughnut Day is all about — doughnuts. There’s no wrong way to embrace this celebration of all things fried and sugary, but there is a right way. And that’s by visiting some of Anchorage’s best doughnut purveyors. It’s my favorite part of the season where, much like Christmas carolers or Halloween trick-or-treaters, celebrants go from door to door demanding treats.
I have a special fondness for the old-school doughnut shops that have been keeping Anchorage sugared up for decades. Dino’s Donuts, in business since 1985, is one of our most iconic. While it has not always occupied its current location, it maintains an impressively lived-in ambience. With its cheerful dinosaur mascot greeting you at the window, its rack of Dino-related merch, its emphatic signage encouraging cash please — they have their own no-fee ATM — and its trays of colorful, more-is-more doughnuts, Dino’s has a unique charm.
Named for the owner’s dog, the shop maintains a vaguely Flintstone-ian theme. No doughnut holes here; at Dino’s, they’re called “pebbles.” Cereal-coated doughnuts boast Fruity Pebbles, and the store’s specialty is the glazed Dino bone. And never has a dog-treat-shaped item looked so tempting. Prefer the traditional shapes? They have you covered with all the raised and cake classics as well as devil’s food cake and red velvet varieties. I’m partial to the lemon zest frosted and maple bacon. I also love their seasonal creations like the Peeps doughnuts that make their appearance around Easter.
Another old-school contender is Golden Donuts which, in my family, is the Midtown landmark around which we give directions. For some reason, all Midtown locations are located east of, west of, or across from Golden Donuts. Boasting late — if erratic — hours, a drive-thru and thoroughly vintage fixtures, Golden Donuts has a long history and loyal fan base.
Golden Donuts boasts a wide variety of classics including crumbed doughnuts, powdered-cake-style doughnuts, and filled doughnuts with flavors like cherry and Bavarian cream. I have a weakness for the chocolate peanut and coconut chocolate flavors but also appreciate when they branch out. Golden Donuts can’t be accused of being overly fancy, but on Mother’s Day they featured lovely rose and lavender rings dusted elegantly with flower petals.
There’s “old-school” and there’s “old-fashioned” and The Kobuk, the eclectic downtown gift shop housed in the 1915 Kimball building, is decidedly old-fashioned. I frequent the shop for Christmas stocking stuffers, Easter baskets, and to keep stocked up on their inimitable house-blended Samovar tea. And every visit requires a stop at their cafe, which is one of downtown’s best-kept secrets.
In addition to well-crafted teas and coffees, the Kobuk produces small batches of hand-glazed old-fashioned doughnuts each day. Old-fashioned doughnuts are in perfect keeping with the Kobuk’s vintage vibe. The sweet cake doughnuts with their cracked veneer bring to mind an old oil painting or the crackling on a vintage teacup. But the flavors are fresh and creative. On a recent visit, I scored some fireweed-flavored doughnuts and ones laced with their clove-scented, cinnamony Samovar tea. These doughnuts are sophisticated and comforting — much like the shop itself.
Of course, not every purveyor of deep-fried goodness has historic roots. In fact, some have no roots at all — they have wheels. And if you’re serious about your sugar rush, you won’t mind going hunting for the Beignet Today truck as it makes its way around town — and the state — at outdoor events and food festivals. Started by two expats from Louisiana eager to share their love of Cajun food, they fry up batches of the little square throw-pillows blanketed in powdered sugar.
Beignets are a Mardi Gras tradition stemming from when Catholics, in anticipation of the belt-tightening season of Lent, would use up all of their sugary and indulgent ingredients. They are somewhere between a yeast doughnut and a cake doughnut with a chewy, almost bouncy texture. I could easily eat a dozen in one sitting. Ask me how I know.
Wiki-Licious, a relatively new kid on the block, is serving up the sweet treats that most Alaskans fall in love with on their Hawaii vacations. Malasadas, which are Portuguese in origin and roughly translate to “badly baked” because of their crispy, sugary exterior and soft interior, are steeped in Fat Tuesday lore and tropical flavors. The dough, yeast-leavened and enriched with eggs, has a distinct flavor and texture from their fried dough brethren. And they are now so popular in Hawaii that Mardi Gras is commonly referred to as “Malasada Day.”
Don’t look for holes in these cloud-like puffs of pastry. Like beignets, they don’t have them. But where the hole should be is a variety of fillings that display their tropical roots with flavors like guava and cream cheese, mango, coconut, and POG — passionfruit, orange and guava to those in the know. While Hawaiian in origin, this unlikely surf shack, along a distinctly un-beachy stretch of Gambell Street, is all Alaska-grown.
So, now that you’ve been reminded of National Doughnut Day — you’re welcome — it’s a good time to mark your calendars for other important holidays like National Jelly Filled Doughnut Day, June 8; National Cream Filled Doughnut Day, Sept. 14; and National Buy A Doughnut Day, Oct. 30. Because if there’s one thing that we as a nation can agree on, it’s that we should be celebrating doughnuts all year round.
If you go:
936 Gambell St.
Tuesday - Thursday: 7 a.m.-7 p.m.
Friday - Saturday: 7 a.m.-8 p.m.
2213 E. Tudor Road
Hours: Call ahead
504 W. Fifth Ave.
Sunday: 12-5 p.m.
Tuesday - Friday: 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
Saturday: 11 a.m.-6 p.m.
Check their website or social media for times and locations
929 E. 81st Ave.
Monday - Saturday: 5 a.m.-3 p.m.